You can boot Spidey off a skyscraper, and he'll still end up on top. The same applies to Marvel, the company that created him. Four years ago, it was in Chapter 11, but three hit films based on Marvel comics--1998's Blade, 2000's X-Men and this year's Blade II--have made it a Hollywood hulk, with studios hustling to put its characters onscreen. Marvel earned $19 million in the last quarter of 2001, its first in the black since the bankruptcy. "There's an instantaneous awareness of Marvel properties among a lot of people, and that translates into dollars and cents," says Amir Malin, CEO of Artisan Entertainment, which has a deal to adapt 15 Marvel franchises. "The audience attracted is very significant, and I expect Spider-Man to open huge." So do a lot of other execs, apparently; five Marvel movies will open in the next 18 months alone.
--By Benjamin Nugent